Monday evening in rural Mississippi, a peaceful night was sent into chaos after a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130 Hercules transport plane lost control and crashed, killing 16 service members. According to a Marine Corps statement, the plane had taken off from Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina and disappeared from radar over Mississippi.
According to Reuters, the Hercules crashed around 5:00 p.m. EST in LeFlore County. LeFlore County is about 100 miles north of the Mississippi state capital of Jackson. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation. At this time, the service members who were killed in the crash are having their identities withheld until their family members were notified by the U.S. Marine Corps
The KC-130 is made by Lockheed Martin. It is a long-range version of the C-130 Hercules transport plane, which has been modified for aerial refueling. While the Marine Corps has approximately 60 KC-130s, the most famous variant is a standard C-130 with Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) assigned to the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. This Marine Corp Herc is designated Fat Albert and showcases the full abilities of the C-130 series of aircraft along with the F-18s the rest of the Blue Angels fly. It also helps carry supplies and equipment needed by the Blue Angels for their shows around the world.
Following Monday’s crash, news organizations posted images online showing the wreckage engulfed in flames. The crash took place in a field of tall vegetation and was easily spotted by a large plume of smoke.
According to the U.S. Navy, the KC-130 operates with a three member crew. The aircraft, as stated previously, is used for air-to-air refueling and to cary cargo and passengers, depending on the mission. It has the capability of carrying 92 ground troops or 64 paratroopers. There is no word on exactly what the mission the aircraft was flying at the time of its crash. More details are expected soon.
The KC-130 entered service in 1962. It has served the U.S. Marine Corps from Viet Nam to maintaining a continuing presence in Afghanistan.
By Cletus Dillwood
Photo Courtesy United States Marine Corps